Thursday, December 29, 2011

Houston gets no respect!

Is Houston the Rodney Dangerfield of the sports world? Sure seems like it!

The Texans, both as a team and as individual players, have gotten punked, again. I'll get into the details in a bit but let's take a look at Houston as a sports city, in general. Even when we win, we still cannot be taken seriously. I'll only cover the top three sports clubs in order to not drag this out.

Retro back to the 1990s. The Houston Rockets make it to the NBA Championship for the first time (1994) and win. All you hear from sportscasters is that it was a fluke season. Everyone was saying there is no way the Houston Rockets would ever make it to the Championships, again. Well, they did, the very next year and guess what, they won, again. Still, very few wanted to give props to a two time Championship team. After the 1995 season, the winning team, aging, started drifting apart and started rebuilding. The fact is, they won twice in a row and only gathered marginal acceptance as a winning team.

Move forward to 2005. The Houston Astros fight their way to the World Series. Yes, I know they were swept in but the point is, no one expected them to make it that far. They were expected to lose the World Series. Houstonians stood behind their team regardless but the Astros received little respect from the rest of the nation.

Football is no different, on the national level. The Houston Oilers started their team in the AFL (Pre NFL-AFL merger) the same year as the Dallas Cowboys started in the NFL. The Oilers won the AFL championship their first two years as a team and made an appearance in the AFL Championships their third year where it took Dallas 6 years before they had their first winning season. The first year for Dallas, 1960, they lost every game. The Oilers went on to win 6 Division Championships and had 14 Playoff appearances but Dallas took the title of "Americas Team" under Tom Landry. Despite the dislike for the Oilers owner, Bud Adams, Houstonians loved their team. Houston now has a new and improved Football Organization.

Houston now have the Texans. In many ways they are an upgrade from the previous Houston Franchise. More respected owner within the city. Return to respectable and professional coaching staff. The team members are just as loved as the the previous franchise team members and now have their first Division clinch in Franchise history in a year filled with injuries to key players/positions and fighting for every yard and point they can grasp and still, with few exceptions, there is little respect on the national level.

Though several alternate positions for the Pro-bowl were offered to Texans, only two received outright invitations to the AFC team. Foster and Joseph are both very deserving players and I take nothing from them but many of their team mates were just as deserving from various position on both sides of the ball. A top rated offensive line seemingly snubbed. Linebackers that would be obvious assets to the AFC team in Hawaii, snubbed. There is more.

The Texans, despite their string of injuries, are moving into the playoffs being lead by Rookie, fresh starter, TJ Yates. The kid deserves respect for what he has taken on and the level of growth he has made in only a few short weeks. Seeing what he is capable of, there is no reason to downplay the potential that he could lead this team deep into the playoffs if not into the Superbowl. Still, most are calling a one and done year in the playoffs as if the spirit of this team could not rise from the ashes. This is a team that has proven itself stronger than a single person as each player works to put the whole team on their shoulders every time something goes wrong. Tj is one of those people. The list of obvious people, and I apologize if I miss anyone as there are so many, that are part of that group would be Cushing, Barwin, Foster, Tate, Jones, Daniels, Walter, Quin, Allen, Joseph, Cody, Watt, Brown, Reed, Smith, Ryans, A. Johnson and to be honest, I know I have missed some but I can't really sit here and name the whole active team.

We can't seem to get any respect. We need to take our respect as a sports city and make a run for the big ring. As I finish this post, I am listening to Mike Mayock (NFL Network Analyst) answering the question "Who do you think is the best AFC team" and saying Ravens and Steelers then finishing that answer by saying "And I think the Bengals could go far in the playoffs" Not even a condescending mention of the Texans until asked. Even then, he just disrespected TJ by making him out to be (paraphrasing) "A third string guy that they hope can be smart enough to play a few games to keep them in the hunt but not much else to be expected".

If the Texans are the team I know they are, this kind of disrespect will motivate them to take the respect they deserve. Win or lose, they will show up for every game from this point on. I'm reminded of the end of the movie "Ladybugs" when Rodney Dangerfield popped up and said "I finally got some respect!" As cheesy as this may sound, I feel this could be the Texans "Ladybugs" season where, at the end, they can stand up proud and yell "I finally got some respect!". That and the ever famous quote of champions...."I'm going to Disneyland!".

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Texans last game of the season

Last game of the regular season.

January 1, 2012 is the last day of the regular season. The Houston Texans, for the first time, will be preparing for the post season and, hopefully, the road to the Superbowl!

The Texans will finish off the season playing the old Houston organization, Tennessee Titans, which is a match that has always been a fan magnet. That being the case it's in the Texans favor that the game is being played in the loudest stadium in the NFL and the home field of the Texans. If the Texans do not win, they will have an immediate rematch the following week in the same stadium but if they do win, they set the pace for their first playoff berth in franchise history and will host either the Bengals (Won against them in regular season), Raiders (Lost to them in regular season), or the Jets (Won against them in preseason).

Now for the game plan going forward. This is a team with insane amounts of talent. There are players on this team who are pro-bowlers and Superbowl players (With other teams). They have the skill and talent to make every yard possible and score in most ball possessions. They have a defense that has proven itself capable of shutting down some of the most explosive offenses. They have an offense with the proven ability to move the ball down the field both on the ground and in the air (That very much includes the time with TJ Yates). The key is, the Houston Texans cannot go into the playoffs in timid mode!

The Texans are in the situation where they must not be afraid to take risks. There is no room for fear or conservative play calling in the playoffs. Each team they face, from this point forward, will be playing for keeps. This is a time when the Texans need to figure a way to keep a two possession lead over any opponent through out the games. If they can extend further, that would be even better. To do that, they need to get the ball down field as quickly as possible and make red-zone visits count to start the first half, every time.

There is a good chance the Texans could meet the Brady Bunch on their way to the Superbowl. This is a team that must be beat with points. Bulls on Parade are easily capable of playing lights out defense but the Patriots cannot, ever, be under estimated. That game will have to be a full team effort.

The Ravens are the other concern in the playoffs. There is a good chance we will have to go to Baltimore to play the Ravens. Like Reliant is for the Texans, M&T Bank is for the Ravens, they have obvious home field advantage. This means the Texans will need to score early and often and play defense like a iron wall too high to throw over.

I have no doubt the Texans are capable of taking on any given team in the NFL. The key is for Coach Kubiak to open up the playbook and give everything available to every team we go up against until we have no more games to play in the post season. If we lose any game from this point forward, the winning team needs to know they earned that win. I see the team has already done this but it's time the entire coaching staff adopt the "No retreat, no surrender" mentality and take the risks needed to come out a winner. I mean no disrespect to any of the coaching staff in saying that, I am reacting to what I've seen in the last few games where it seemed play calling was a bit too conservative. I understand even the most experienced professionals can get nervous about what might lay before them but in situations like this, we have to swallow that fear and find the confidence and courage to make the difficult calls and trust in the players to make them happen.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Texans after loss to Colts 2011

Can they make it?

The Texans  are in the playoffs as division champions for the first time in franchise history. I am extremely happy about this. These guys have hammered their way through insane levels of adversity during this season to get where they are. Now, that is not something you'd expect we are.

As an outside observer I have noticed a few things that bother me, though. Don't get me wrong with what I'm about to go in to. I love coach Kubiak and truly admire his ability to gather a team of such high quality players and his ability to create plays in this style offense that are highly effective. And now with the big "but" of the post... If I had the chance, I'd have to talk to Kubes about how he is playing T.J. Yates. Yates is a great QB with obvious talent and could be the future of the Texans but for now, we need to play to his strengths.

Kubiak seems to be trying to work Yates as if he were Matt Schaub. Schaub is a good QB with his own strengths that differ from Yates. That would go for any two QBs in the league  No two QBs are exactly the same. Let's break this down.

Schaub and Yates work the run game pretty well in the same ways. It's really hard to not be uniformed across various QBs when you have a couple great backs to hand off to. Schaub and Yates are on equal footing here and watch game footage you wouldn't even notice which was which if you weren't paying attention to the number on the jersey.

Schaub and Yates do work the screens a little different. Schaub is a little more of a floater when tossing the ball on a screen where Yates fires a quick shot. Neither really seem to be any better or worse but they are obviously different in a way that shows they are not the same QB. Watching footage, you can tell which is which. Same goes for bootlegs. Schaub floats the ball with solid accuracy so TEs, RBs or WRs can catch in a casual manor and do what they do from there. Yates, in the boot, is more rapid in his movement in the back field and, again, fires a bullet to his intended receiver. Still, the differences between the two do not make either any better or worse than the other. I'd like to make clear that I am not trying to say one is any better than the other, overall. I am simply pointing out differences in how they work the ball/plays.

Here is where I might seem a bit critical of Kubiak. Because there are differences in how Schaub and Yates work the ball, the offense needs to be modified in order to allow the team to utilize the strengths of Yates while he is at the helm. Schaub is a relaxed casual passer where Yates is a controlled cannon! Both styles work well as long as they are complemented with the proper play maker line up. Take it or leave it, I'm about to give my constructive criticism as an outside observer.

Andre Johnson is about to come back, Jeff Maehl has recently been brought up and we also have Walter and B. Johnson for WRs. What I would do to help complement Yates and put more points on the board is to add or modify plays that utilize single a RB and WR with multiple TEs and start using single RB, TE plays where more long ball receivers can stretch the opposing defense. Not only will that work to the strengths of Yates by allowing him to use his arm strength but it also gives him options to dump the ball to the RB or TE if needed just to move the ball down the field. We only have one long ball receiver that we lean on, probably way too much, and we need to get more down field and more often.

After seeing some footage of Jeff Maehl from his final year in college ball, I feel comfortable saying that he should be given a chance to make some plays along side A. Johnson. Run them on the same side or opposite side of the line but having two long ball guys stretching a defense thin will open up the middle and probably help the run at the same time.

This has been my first attempt at publicly tossing in my two cents. Keep in mind I am a 39 year old guy that hasn't played on the field since I was in school and was a nose tackle trying to now give offensive advice to pro NFL players/coaches but when it comes down to it, I've never lost my love of the game and have always broken down the games I've watched to see what worked and what didn't. So, I tend to be the guy everyone comes to when they want an idea on might win a game on any given Sunday. Some calls are easy and others aren't so much but, at the risk of tooting my own horn, my pick rating based on how the ball is handled along with defensive standings has been pretty accurate so far. I wish I could claim 100% success rate but so far, I have a better rating than Cris Collinsworth ;o)

To sum all this up, I think, if they play to their strengths, the Texans can make it all the way. They have the talent, they have the desire, they just need to make the  good calls and execute.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Changing things up a little!

Here we go, people!

I have decided to leave politics but might still pop a few things in here and there just to stir the pot, a little. I will still follow politics as it is a concern for myself and many others but will hardly be the focus of this site, moving forward.

I have seasonal interests that I have wanted to blog about for years but didn't want to open a ton of accounts, profiles or sites to discuss them all. Having run for congress, I had to keep my political posts secluded from other interests and I found that to be a bit restrictive to my thought diversity.

Fair warning! When the NFL football season is in session, that WILL be the focus of my rants. Also, I am, through thick and thin, a die hard Houston Texans fan. Grew up in Houston Texas and strongly embraced the city rivalry be tween Houston and the other football city in Texas....Dallas. I've seen it as a friendly rivalry where we can talk the worst of smack and still shake hands with a smile at the end of the day.

Other than Football season (Until a viable Spring time football league comes along) any given topic will be up from grabs. I have no problem with people suggesting topics that spawn from already discussed topics. Asking question will be good to help keep things going. Also, don't be afraid to spot a donation or two from time to time to help keep me moving (See: Donation button in upper right ;o}).

Just for the record, I will keep my other site up where politics will be more prominent. For now, at least.